Research has confirmed that there is an evident relationship between depression and hearing loss. Unfortunately, both of these conditions are often overlooked and untreated by primary healthcare professionals. It’s important to highlight this dilemma to improve the overall health of millions of people.
The Link Between Depression and Hearing Loss
Many people who have hearing loss face difficulties with communication. This can cause a lot of stress, fatigue, and social isolation. Older adults are at a higher risk of depression caused by social isolation.
According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), over 11 percent of individuals who experience hearing loss also have depression, compared to 5 percent of the general population. Depression was shown to be common among people between the ages of 18 and 69.
There had been a considerable link between moderate to severe depression and hearing loss. The study had not confirmed the cause and effect of this affiliation.
Hearing loss is the third leading condition found in elderly adults. Presbycusis is the most prevalent type of hearing loss related to aging. It happens very gradually, so it’s difficult for a person to detect unless they get a hearing test. It is described as losing the highest frequency consonant sounds and having difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise. About 25 to 40 percent of adults over 65 years of age experience hearing loss. For most people in that age group, hearing loss tends to go undetected and untreated. This could be because just 9 percent of general healthcare practitioners recommend that their older patients receive a hearing test. Even when people do get tested, just 25 percent of those with treatable hearing loss take the initiative to get hearing aids.
What are the signs of Hearing Loss and Depression?
It is recommended that you get a routine hearing test, and familiarize yourself with symptoms of depression.
Symptoms that can be mistaken for signs of aging - such as difficulty with following along in a conversation, social isolation, or even feelings of paranoia - may be caused by hearing loss.
Some signs of depression, like feeling sad and hopeless are more obvious; whereas feeling fatigued, struggling with concentration, experiencing a loss of appetite, irritability, and losing interest in your favorite hobbies can disrupt your daily life and how you interact with others. Your family healthcare provider, family, and friends should also observe symptoms of depression. These symptoms make it very important to regularly get your hearing tested.
Typical signs of hearing loss are turning up the volume level on the TV or computer, to the point where others ask to turn it down, constantly asking others to repeat themselves, or experiencing difficulty with following along during conversations.
The latest research may allow healthcare providers to become more mindful of depression symptoms in patients with hearing loss or refer those who have these symptoms to get additional treatment. Proper treatment could help these individuals acknowledge their feelings, take action, and become more socially engaged with others to improve their overall health.
Hearing tests can change how depression is treated. For someone with depression that is caused by or worsens due to underlying hearing loss, a hearing test should be taken before prescribing antidepressants. This will help patients avoid unnecessary medications. There have been some medications that are known to cause hearing loss, which can further damage your mental health.
How to Discuss Hearing Loss
It probably won’t be easy to bring up the topic of hearing loss with an older adult. Many do not appreciate being told what to do, because of the switch in roles of authority.
It may be more effective to structure the discussion in a way that highlights the benefits of getting treatment. For example, they may find that it’s easier to participate in conversations and become more independent by not relying on others to repeat themselves or relay something that was said. Remind them that there have been considerable advancements in hearing aid technology. There are so many more benefits such as blocking out distracting background noise so that you may focus on a conversation.
If you, or a loved one, are experiencing hearing loss, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a free hearing test and consultation. The earlier you seek treatment, the better chance you will have to keep the hearing abilities that you still possess.